Tractor trip to aid children's homes


By Rev. Frank Pennington
Special to the Advocate

MARKSVILLE, La. — Abe Mattox grew up driving a tractor in Mississippi. Now that experience will enable him and Dennis Smith to get involved in ministry.

Mattox and Smith plan to drive a 1951 8N Ford tractor from Louisiana to Alabama on a trip dubbed a “Sentimental Journey.”

The journey actually began years ago when Mattox was 6 years old and living in Enterprise, Miss. “Those years growing up on a farm in Enterprise are special memories for me,” Mattox said.

He had those memories in the back of his mind when in 2004 he decided to find and restore a 1951 Ford tractor like the one he grew up driving. As the project was nearing completion, he thought it would be nice to once again drive this tractor in the fields and back country roads he once drove on as a child. This idea evolved into also doing something for someone else. He has turned his “Sentimental Journey” into a fund-raising effort to help the Methodist Children’s Homes in Louisiana and Mississippi.

“I’m always so impressed when someone does something so unique for a cause that they are so passionate about,” said Becky Hudgens, executive director of the Mississippi Methodist Children’s Home in Madison, Miss. “The financial support that this endeavor will raise is greatly needed by all children’s homes, but the awareness that it brings to the needs of so many hurting children in our country is of equal importance.”

“We appreciate any assistance with helping the children that we have here, “said Dr. Robert Flournoy, director of Planned Giving and Major Gifts for the Methodist Children’s home in Ruston, La. “The daily cost of operating a children’s home of this size is tremendous, and we appreciate Abe and Dennis for their efforts.”

The funds raised will be divided between the Methodist Children’s Homes in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Terri Flint, Mattox’s fiancé, was not so sure about this idea at first. “I worry about him,” she says, “but I always worry about Abe. I have no doubt he will make it there and I’m coming around with the idea. I’m helping him with this for Abe and the kids.”

The journey will begin at Marksville UMC, with a scheduled departure on April 22, depending on the weather. The tractor has a maximum speed of 15 mph, but the plans are for averaging 7 mph during the trip.

An extra seat has been added to the tractor, along with a small trailer that will carry needed supplies. Stops along the route are planned in Jonesville, Natchez, Meadville, Monticello, Laurel and Enterprise, ending at his sister’s home in Alabama. Motels along the way have already provided lodging at no charge.

Contributions can be made with checks payable to “Sentimental Journey,” and mailed to P.O. Box 339, Marksville, LA 71351.